Does my ng-model really need to have a dot to avoid child $scope problems?

The question:

According to, it’s a problem to try to data-bind to primitives attached to your $scope:

Scope inheritance is normally straightforward, and you often don’t even need to know it is happening… until you try 2-way data binding (i.e., form elements, ng-model) to a primitive (e.g., number, string, boolean) defined on the parent scope from inside the child scope. It doesn’t work the way most people expect it should work.

The recommendation is

This issue with primitives can be easily avoided by following the “best practice” of always have a ‘.’ in your ng-models

Now, I have this very simple setup which violates these rules:


<input type="text" ng-model="theText" />
<button ng-disabled="shouldDisable()">Button</button>


function MyController($scope) {
    $scope.theText = "";
    $scope.shouldDisable = function () {
         return $scope.theText.length >= 2;

Is this really bad? Is this going to screw me over in some horrible way when I start trying to use child scopes, somehow?

Do I need to change it to something like

function MyController($scope) {
    $scope.theText = { value: "" };
    $scope.shouldDisable = function () {
         return $scope.theText.value.length >= 2;


<input type="text" ng-model="theText.value" />
<button ng-disabled="shouldDisable()">Button</button>

so that I follow the best practice? What concrete example can you give me where the latter will save me from some horrible consequence that would be present in the former?

The Solutions:

Below are the methods you can try. The first solution is probably the best. Try others if the first one doesn’t work. Senior developers aren’t just copying/pasting – they read the methods carefully & apply them wisely to each case.

Method 1

A lot of things introduce new scopes. Let’s say that in your controllers, you actually want to add tabs : first tab is actual rendering, second tab is the form (so that you have a real-time preview).

You decide to use a directive for that :

  <tab name="view">
  <tab name="edit" focus="true">
    <input type="text" ng-model="theText" />

Well, know what ? <tabs> has its own scope, and broke your controller one ! So when you edit, angular will do something like this in js :

$scope.theText = element.val();

which will not traverse the prototype chain to try and set theText on parents.

EDIT : just to be clear, I’m only using “tabs” as an example. When I say “A lot of things introduce a new scope”, I mean it : ng-include, ng-view, ng-switch, ng-controller (of course), etc.

So : this might not be needed as of right now, because you don’t yet have child scopes in that view, but you don’t know whether you’re gonna add child templates or not, which might eventually modify theText themselves, causing the problem. To future proof your design, always follow the rule, and you’ll have no surprise then ;).

Method 2

Let’s say you have scopes M, A, and B, where M is the parent of both A and B.

If one of (A,B) tries to write to M’s scope, it will work only on non-primitive types. The reason for this is that non-primitive types are passed by reference.

Primitive types on the other hand, are not, hence attempting to write to theText on M’s scope will create a new property of the same name on A or B’s scope, respectively, instead of writing to M. If both A and B depend on this property, errors will happen, because neither one of them would be aware of what the other one is doing.

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

Leave a Comment